If you think seasonal advertising is what corresponds to what colors decorate the aisles of your local Walmart, you are mistaken. Without the need to work with physical decorations, online marketers can adapt their messaging to fit a plethora of holidays and events with minimal effort. All that is needed is a calendar and some planning.
Types of Seasonal Content
There are two types of seasonal content to consider: time-based (based on the month or season) and event-based (holidays and other events of note). So, while we here at our office are taking down the reds, pinks, & whites of Valentine’s Day and putting up the greens & golds of St. Patrick’s Day, how many of you are also creating ads and content for March Madness or National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day (March 1st)? Creating content for National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day may sound like a ridiculous thing to do; but, if you can post a hyper-focused, short-lived ad that mentions a special day or event and capture the buyer’s imagination, you can cut through a lot of the “chatter” and competition.
Something we’ve often discussed amongst ourselves but perhaps not pushed hard enough to our clients is the need for quality, relevant, and seasonal content. There may not be any way for all of our clients to take advantage of every holiday or event. For example, I am not certain I would suggest to a client who makes men’s athletic gear to make a product push in the week’s leading up to Mother’s Day; but, I certainly would suggest they create content and have promotions in mind for the Super Bowl and the NBA Playoffs / Championships.
As we all know, viral and shareable content is what can win the day. An easy way to ensure your content and / or ads go viral is to make sure it involves an event or holiday that many people are already thinking about. The trick is to make sure that you post at just the right time – when the event is on your customer’s mind. Post too early and you risk not being paid attention to. Post too late or after the event, and you will look like a “me too” advertiser, rather than someone with your finger on the pulse of what’s happening. The other trick to this is to keep track of when your large seasonal campaigns are successful and when interaction / conversions start trailing off so that in subsequent years, you will know when to launch and when to pull back on ad spend associated with those campaigns.
However, even this may have limitations, because as we know and mentioned, retailers like Walmart are conditioning their customers to get ready for holidays for what seems like a longer period in advance annually. How many of us have gone into Home Depot and seen inflatable Christmas lawn ornaments and pre-lit trees in September before Halloween & Thanksgiving?
So, in spite of everything I’ve said to this point, the message of this blog is not only to simply create and post seasonal content, but be willing to experiment with when it is best to use your seasonal ads and incentives depending on your product and market.
Conversely, while holidays such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day may be no brainers, what about other, less known and let’s admit, silly holidays like National Pizza Day (February 9th) or National Wiggle Your Toes Day (August 6th)? The list of these “national days” is seemingly endless and many of these “national days” can be found at websites like www.nationaldaycalendar.com. I would advise my clients in the case of lesser-known “national” days, if the product being sold has nothing to do with the day in question, post no more than two days before to raise awareness of the “national” day; then, post once again on the day of in order to raise awareness of your website and special you may be offering.
However, if you happen to make, say peanut butter cookies – fun, tongue-in-cheek content advising readers of not only the day , but reminding them to get ready & prepare for it in advance is a great way to build momentum and anticipation. Promotions tied to these days with special promos and codes to enter at checkout can be a quick way to build buzz and gain shares.
For other, larger events on the calendar, I would advise not to use evergreen or recycled images reused from year-to-year. Most memorable ads during the holidays are from the same advertisers – Coca-Cola, Budweiser, & McDonalds. These brands create new ads each year based on a familiar theme – Polar Bears, Clydesdales, & Ronald McDonald. I understand not every client is going to have a multimillion-dollar advertising account and ability to create new, annual flashy commercials. However, the ability to create short video clips and new image content to tie into your annual holiday campaign makes your ads more memorable & exciting. It also indicates to your client that you care and are not simply resting on laurels you created years ago that were saved somewhere on your marketer’s hard drive.
Seasonal content does not have to be focused solely on special days or events. As the name suggests, “seasonal” can also apply to a part of the year. As a retailer or service provider, are you ensuring your message is relevant to the season and weather as the year progresses? In the summer, are you showcasing products and services that are more appealing in warmer weather? Are you doing the same in winter, when the weather is cooler? If you are showing ads for irrelevant products or services at the wrong time of year, you are throwing your money away.
At the very least, you should look at your calendar and know what products are in and outof season where they are being shown. While you may be able to get away with advertising shorts and sandals year-round in Florida and Southern California, if you are showing those ads past September in locales like Minnesota and North Dakota, you risk becoming detached with the customers reading those ads. AdWords allows for distinct markets and ads to cater to them. Please use this ability to focus in on your core audience and become engaged in your local markets.
A promotional calendar can help you plan and prepare content for holidays and other events. By thinking ahead, you can determine what days to post seasonal content and when to start tracking interactions / conversions based on those ads. Previous seasonal or holiday event performance will be the most accurate way to identify when to post and take down the ads in following years.
Speak with your online advertising consultant and get his / her advice on how to create seasonable campaigns, in addition to which platforms to launch them on – AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook, etc. Do this well in advance and not right before the days / events for which you wish to create an ad. This is a good idea, and something I highly suggest all clients big & small do!
Written by: Curt Suddath